This article describes the evidence required for making a successful Australian spouse visa application as well as several other useful tips and hints on how to select the best professional adviser.
1. SPOUSE VISAS ARE IMPOSSIBLE TO OBTAIN UNLESS YOU HAVE A JOINT BANK ACCOUNT OR LEASE
Not true as many couples do not have these important documents but still succeed. We can show you how to compensate with other even better evidentiary documents from yourselves, friends and family.
Evidence covers many categories above and beyond just your finances and includes the history of your relationship, the opinions of others about your relationship, proof of your travels together, your own personal statements about the depth and commitment of your relationship and many other relevant fields.
2. SPOUSE VISA APPLICATIONS ARE EASY -”MY FRIEND DID IT HIM/HERSELF”
That may be true for your friend but, if your friend was jumping off a high cliff and over rocks into the ocean, would you jump too? None of us do everything our friends do – we need to make our own choices, especially in matters as important as love and migration where the risks are so high.
3. I AM AUSTRALIAN AND I HAVE A RIGHT TO HAVE MY SPOUSE LIVE IN AUSTRALIA SO THEY WILL JUST GIVE THEM THE VISA
No! Spouse visas are only granted when you can also prove the relationship is genuine; being an Australian guarantees nothing on a spouse visa application. If it were otherwise anyone could just move in with or marry an Australian and obtain a visa.
4. SPOUSE VISAS ARE QUICKER IF YOU APPLY ON YOUR OWN
Also not true; doing it on your own can take 4 -6 months or more, sometimes even over a year until approval. One client was waiting six months to just to get a government case officer before we intervened. We have had some of our client’s spouse applications approved in 1 day and aim for a quick approval of 2 -4 weeks in all cases. We get faster approvals because we prepare the whole case better.
5. I CAN GET A SPOUSE VISA EVEN IF MY LAST VISA APPLICATION WAS REFUSED
Previous visa refusals almost always make subsequent applications harder as more evidence is required and you must prove good character for migration purposes and therefore sometimes apply overseas. Hence, it is better to make your first application succeed.
6. YOU DON’T NEED MUCH EVIDENCE TO GET A SPOUSE VISA
This is probably the biggest misconception of them all! No spouse case will ever be approved without substantial, credible and properly documented and organised evidence, preferably scrutinised by a lawyer (like the writer of this article) skilled in the art of vetting evidence for errors and or dangerous information which might otherwise prejudice your application
7. WE ARE MARRIED BUT WE NEED TO LIVE TOGETHER FOR A YEAR AS WELL BEFORE WE CAN APPLY FOR AN AUSTRALIAN SPOUSE VISA
Not correct. Australian law states that you must either be legally married OR live in genuine de-facto relationship (monogamous/to the exclusion of all others) for 12 months before applying for a spouse visa. You do not have to do both. Furthermore, even if you are not married, you can start preparation for your spouse visa application before your 12 months of de-facto time is finished and then lodge the application as soon as it is.
8. SPOUSE VISAS ARE ALWAYS APPROVED IF YOUR RELATIONSHIP IS GENUINE AND NOT FAKE
This is a popular misconception, as everyone would like to believe that the Immigration officers are all honest, competent and skilful at discerning which relationships are real and which are not. However, like you, they are human beings and can be prejudiced against certain types of relationships, racist and even just overworked and incapable of giving proper attention to your application. You need the protection of a lawyer to deal with your case as they know how to deal with these issues upfront before and or as the problem occurs.
9. MY SPOUSE AND I HAVE ENOUGH COMMON SENSE, WHY DO WE NEED A LAWYER?
Good question – you might also ask why you need a doctor when you are sick or a mechanic to fix your broken down car. There are many things that most of us can do on our own but some that are best left to the experts. Essentially, in this type of case, you need not just any lawyer but an experienced migration lawyer who has also had lots of spouse cases approved – since 2000 we have had nearly 100 consecutive spouse cases approved without one visa refusal.
10. THE IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT WILL UNDERSTAND THAT WHEN WE STARTED OUR RELATIONSHIP WE DID NOT KEEP ANY DOCUMENTS AS WE WEREN’T THINKING ABOUT THAT AT THE TIME
Yes to a certain degree that is true – who does start a romantic liaison by organising documents anyway? Answer; probably the fake relationships contrived for visas alone. However, that does not take away from the fact that you need to document the entire relationship in one way or another no matter how things got started. Once again, our skill and experience is to help you in that area.
11. WE DON’T WANT TO GET MARRIED JUST FOR A VISA AND, EVEN IF WE DID, THE IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT WILL THINK IT WAS FAKE, SO WHY SHOULD WE?
We agree, neither should you marry just for a visa. Almost everyone wants to get married at the right time and for the right reasons. We would never encourage anyone to do otherwise. However, the act of migration sometimes forces people to bring forward important life decisions they could otherwise have put off and this is certainly the case here. We will advise you on this important matter personally at one of our interviews and in light of all your circumstances. In all cases, we always advise you to tell the truth.
12. I CAN JUST USE ANY MIGRATION AGENT TO DO MY SPOUSE CASE WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE EXPERIENCED
Definitely not! Until late 2007, all migration agents who were not lawyers (and that is most of them), could get their license by doing a short course over 2 weekends. They literally could have been driving a taxi or cleaning houses one week and a few weeks later be dispensing migration advice to all and sundry after doing this ridiculously short course. Fortunately, that law has now changed and at least non-migration agents must have a university degree now to be admitted to a migration agent course. However, like anything else, just doing a course does not qualify you for being excellent in the harsh realities of the market-place.
Here are some of the tough but necessary questions you should ask any migration agent or lawyer before you hand them the enormous responsibility of ensuring your Australian spouse visa case will succeed:
I. Are you a practising lawyer as well as a registered migration agent or just a migration agent? If you are not a lawyer, why not? How will you deal with legal issues on our case?
II. How long have you been practicing in the area of migration law?
III. How many spouse cases have you had approved? If less than 50, then why?
IV. Have you ever had a spouse case refused and, if so, why?
V. Can you give me any authentic written testimonials (with contact details so I can verify they are true) of any of your spouse case clients that you have had approved? If not, why not?
VI. What percentage of your spouse cases is approved? If less than 100%, then why?
VII. Have you ever done a spouse case the same as ours? What happened?
VIII. Will you take a percentage of your fee only when my case is approved? If not, why not?
Author: Justin Rickard